Gentle Heritage-Livestock Breeds for New Homesteaders

| 10/26/2015 10:43:00 AM

Ever since they were youngsters on opposite sides of the globe, Kirsten and Albert Kosinski dreamed of being farmers. After decades of living in metropolises that included Los Angeles and Detroit, Al and Kirsten's mutual dream ultimately came true. Building a farmstead as newlyweds in their 40s and 50s required finding gentle, carefree livestock breeds and less physically demanding farming methods.Al Kosinski with draft horses

That was more than 10 years ago. Today the couple lives as sustainably as possible, raising hardy, heritage breeds of grass-fed Dorper and Katahdin/ cross sheep and purebred Katahdin sheep, Scottish Highland cattle, occasionally Cornish-cross chickens for meat, ducks, geese, Bourbon red turkeys, meat rabbits, a few laying hens and Alpine and Saanen dairy goats on a small Missouri homestead. Their Black Bell Acres near Alton, Missouri, offers farm-fresh eggs, lamb, beef and occasionally a few kids. The Kosinski’s buck, Kaiser, sired our first kid, Cream.

Kirsten, a native of Germany, did just about everything but farm before she met Al. Among other non-agricultural ventures, Kirsten owned and operated a chimney-sweep company and worked a payphone route. Al, also a city dweller, retired after 30 years as a custodian in the Birmingham, Mich., school district.

Scottish Highland cattle

Both, however, always envisioned themselves one day embracing a self-sufficient country life. Kirsten discovered Al’s aspiration for farming when helping him sort through three generations of accumulation after his parents’ deaths. Among the usual trinkets and treasures, Al had stacks of old Dairy Goat and Countryside magazines.

When Kirsten asked him about it, Al said he had never found anyone who wanted to embark on that journey with him. Their shared ambitions led to a life together and exodus from the city and all that such occupancy entails. The Kosinski’s first rural home was on 19 acres near Battle Creek, Mich., where they fell in love with draft horses.

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